The Emotions - Blessed: The Emotions Anthology (1969-1985)

The Emotions
the_emotions_blessed_the_emotions_anthology_1969-1985.jpg
Click on CD cover
to listen or purchase

Although The Emotions are in some ways never too far from the listening ears of the public—especially thanks to the ongoing presence of their gems “Best of My Love” and “Boogie Wonderland” (with Earth, Wind & Fire) on radio stations and motion picture soundtracks of all kinds, the soulful sisters’ body of work at large is often overlooked in the shadows of those massive hits. The new two-disc release, Blessed: The Emotions Anthology 1969-1985, serves as a convincing testament of just how effortlessly the Hutchinson siblings were at tackling heartfelt R&B balladry, feel-good dance floor nuggets, and much more in between. Over the course of 40 tracks, the group’s at once angelic and fiery harmonies and leads breathe unparalleled spirit and warmth into material masterfully written and produced by the likes of Isaac Hayes, Earth, Wind & Fire, and Al McCay.

Although The Emotions are in some ways never too far from the listening ears of the public—especially thanks to the ongoing presence of their gems “Best of My Love” and “Boogie Wonderland” (with Earth, Wind & Fire) on radio stations and motion picture soundtracks of all kinds, the soulful sisters’ body of work at large is often overlooked in the shadows of those massive hits. The new two-disc release, Blessed: The Emotions Anthology 1969-1985, serves as a convincing testament of just how effortlessly the Hutchinson siblings were at tackling heartfelt R&B balladry, feel-good dance floor nuggets, and much more in between. Over the course of 40 tracks, the group’s at once angelic and fiery harmonies and leads breathe unparalleled spirit and warmth into material masterfully written and produced by the likes of Isaac Hayes, Earth, Wind & Fire, and Al McCay.

Blessed takes its title from the 1977 Rejoice album cut, which soul and gospel fans alike have adored in the decades since (new-jill-swing group Jade even remade it on its 1992 debut album)—which makes for a definitive closer to a well-conceived and ideally flowing collection. The ladies’ late-‘60s/early ‘70s recordings for Volt/Stax make up much of disc one’s first half, beginning with the gutsy and riveting “So I Can Love You” and moving on through appealing fare such as the sweet and charming chugger “My Honey and Me,” the rousingly funky “Blind Alley” and the pensive ballad “Show Me How.” Loosely chronological, the set then progresses through a healthy dose of The Emotions’ mid- to late-‘70s Columbia catalog, canvassing albums like Flowers, Rejoice, Sunbeam, and Come into Our World. The timelessly poignant “Don’t Ask My Neighbors” is here, as well as hidden gems including the mellow “Special Part” and the inspiring “A Long Way to Go.” 

Disco jewels also comprise a significant part of the group’s story, evidenced by contagious tunes on disc two like “Turn It Out” (from 1981’s New Affair), the rump-shakin’-inciting “What’s the Name of Your Love,” and the brilliantly melodic and rhythmic “I Should Be Dancing,” penned by Marlo Henderson with glorious horn arrangements by Greg Mathieson. Not necessarily crafted specifically for the dance floor—but equally kinetic and inciting—the sublime and funky “Rejoice” and 1976 hit “I Don’t Wanna Lose Your Love” (penned by sisters Wanda and Jeanette and covered in the early 1990s by B Angie B) are solid proof of the Hutchinsons’ mastery of melding gospel-derived vocal arrangements into kick-butt R&B grooves. The slow jams from this period are also highly merited. It’s a mystery that touching numbers such as “Now That I Know” and “Where Is Your Love” didn’t make much of a commercial impression, given their seamless compositional structure and spot-on vocal performances.

Beyond The Emotions’ prime chart period, Blessed features several noteworthy tracks from the group’s mid-‘80s albums Sincerely and If I Only Knew. Key among these are the sultry, moody “You’re the One” and the peppy, catchy “You’re the Best,” a top-40 dance hit bearing a slight resemblance to Rufus and Chaka Khan’s “Ain’t Nobody.” The sole selection from the sisters’ 1985 Motown album is not indicative of the overall quality of that album; perhaps licensing considerations prevented a better showing of that chapter. In totality, however, the song selection from start to finish is thoughtful and loyal both to audiences casually familiar with the group and those dedicated through thick and thin. Recommended.

by Justin Kantor 
Connect with Justin on Facebook.

 
Album of the Month - Plunky & Oneness - "Afroclectic"
Choice Cut - Chris Jasper - "For The Love of You"
Featured Album - Jeffrey Dennis - "Lovin On You"
Featured Album - Leon Ware - "Rainbow Deux"

Leave a comment!